If you have a house cat or one that spends the majority of the time indoors, it may have suddenly dawned on you that they are not getting much sun. Is this a problem? Is sunlight required? Perhaps you have noticed that your cat will actively attempt to sit directly within the sun’s rays. What does all this mean?
So, do cats need sunlight? Cats do not require sunlight to survive. Cats do not obtain their vitamin D from direct sunlight exposure (as humans do) and cats can cover their requirements through their diet. However, cats generally very much enjoy the sun. Sunlight helps a cat regulate their body temperature and they find sunlight exposure to be relaxing and soothing.
Different breeds of cats will, of course, react to sunlight differently and have their own preferences and desires.
For the most part, cats will actively seek the sun out and will move on when they get too hot or uncomfortable.
Excessive direct sun exposure can cause heatstroke, so you need to ensure that your cat can evade the sun and set up its environment accordingly.
While it is not technically ‘required’; your cat will likely love nothing more than to lye out in the sun.
But if they do not ‘need’ it why do they do this? Is it beneficial in any way?
Let’s discuss why in the following sections.
Is The Sun Good For Cats?
The sun is good for cats if they are exposed to it in appropriate amounts. Relaxation and body temperature regulation are the two primary benefits it can provide.
Cats are crepuscular, which means that they are at their most active in the twilight hours, between dawn and dusk. This is typically why they roam the streets during the night hours.
It is also why they like to lounge during the day; this is the time in which they like to take it easy and rest.
Many cats like to lie out in the sun, but this is not unique to this species. Most animals love to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin/fur.
The sun makes us all feel good and happy.
Interestingly, you are more likely to notice the sight of cats more on a hot day than a cold one.
They will take every opportunity to enjoy the sun when it’s there.
If cats love being out in the sun so much, it leads us to think that spending time out in the sun must be good for them; well, it is.
Let’s look at the ways sunbathing is good for cats:
It’s Relaxing For Cats
The sun provides comfort and warmth to cats, and it helps them to relax.
It is not so much the rays they are seeking but the heat that it brings.
Felines can withstand temperatures of up to 122 degrees F, but they can adapt to all kinds of climates, be they hot or cold.
It Helps Cats Balance Their Body Temperature
The body temperature of cats, like most mammals, decreases when they are relaxing or sleeping. This is because no calories are expended.
Because of this, their bodies will compensate for this temperature change, and they will seek warm areas like the sun.
This is why you will see cats resting next to a window when the sun is shining.
Why Do Cats Like To Sit In The Sun?
Cats like to sit out in the sun because it brings them pleasure, and helps to keep them warm.
The sun is warm, and it’s comforting,
If you are concerned with your cat getting hot – when a cat begins feeling quite warm from resting in the same position for a long time, he will move to another area to cool down.
Is It Good For Cats To Lay Out In The Sun?
It is indeed good for cats to lay out in the sun, albeit in moderation.
Cats can live without the sun, but they are much happier when the sun is out and they can get out in it.
While cats like the sun and it benefits their health and makes them comfortable and relaxed, you must be careful that your kitty isn’t out in the sun for too long, especially in the summer.
This can have dire consequences on their health especially if they get dehydrated.
It is up to you as their owner to monitor them and limit their exposure to the sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to health issues like heatstroke.
Heatstroke occurs when there is a rise in temperature in the body. Heatstroke is very dangerous, and it can lead to your cat having severe health issues; it can even be fatal.
You must be aware of what the symptoms of heatstroke are so that you can offer prevention methods if necessary.
Symptoms Of Heatstroke In Cats
Heatstroke, as mentioned above, can have dire effects on your cat’s health, and it can cause intestinal bleeding, multiple organ failure, and even death.
If you think that your cat might be suffering from heatstroke, you must check his temperature with a thermometer; if it exceeds 107.5 degrees F, you must act fast and administer first aid. Symptoms include:
- Muscle tremors
- Blue tongue
- Shaking and trembling
- Excessive salivation
- Increased heart rate
First Aid For Heatstroke In Cats
If you believe that your cat is suffering from heatstroke, the first thing you must do is contact your emergency vet, describe the symptoms to them, and follow their instructions. The following are some tips for you to follow to alleviate the situation:
- Gradually lower the body temperature.
- Take your cat to a cool area, out of direct sunlight. A fan at the lowest speed can help.
- Gently wet your cat’s mouth with a water spray.
- Apply wet flannels to your cat’s head, neck, chest, and legs.
- Continually check your cat’s temperature until it reaches 102 degrees F
Preventing Heatstroke In Cats
Even if your cat has not yet suffered from heatstroke and can take the sun quite well, prevention is always better than cure. Take note of the following:
- Never leave your cat locked inside a car, especially on a hot summer day.
- Make sure that your cat has lots of fresh water and plenty to eat.
- Provide your cat with a shaded area where he can keep a reasonable temperate.
- When it comes to exercise, make sure that your cat doesn’t over-do it, especially on hot days.
- Ensure your cat has free access to multiple areas of your home and can escape and evade the sun.
- Be cautious with windows that are directly in the suns path.
Do cats need sunlight? They certainly do, but this is purely for their emotional well-being. The warmth of the sun aids relaxation, and it makes them happy.
Our bodies synthesize vitamin D from the sun, and we rely on it pretty heavily to do so.
This does not apply to cats and while they still require it, their coats make acquiring it this way pretty difficult.
For this reason, cats simply need a high-quality, balanced diet; this will give them the minerals and vitamins they require.
Selecting a premium, high-quality dry cat food like the Purina Brand on Amazon will ensure your cat obtains all the Vitamin D and other nutrients they need to thrive.
Cats know how to live and they like to please themselves.
They act in accordance to their needs; if they are hungry, they will eat, tired, they will rest. If they feel like scratching the heck out of your furniture, so be it.
When it comes to the sun, if they see it, they’ll attempt to relax in it. If they get too hot, they’ll attempt to move.
Even though cats can withstand hot climates, and self-regulate their temperature by moving in and out of the sun, sometimes its not always possible.
For this reason, you must still monitor their time outside on hot summer days.
With a little care and attention on your part, you can keep your cat safe from prolonged exposure to the sun.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.